UNIVERSITY OF KENTUCKY
COLLEGE OF AGRICULTURE Ž DEPARTMENT OF ENTOMOLOGY
Stephanie Bailey, Extension Specialist
Soldier beetles, also known as leatherwings, get their The adults are also predators, eating caterpillars, eggs,
name from the soft, clothlike wing covers, which when aphids, and other soft-bodied insects. They will
brightly colored are reminiscent of uniforms. These alternatively eat nectar and pollen if no insects are
beetles are elongate, soft-bodied and about 1/2" long. around. They do not damage plant foliage. Adults are
Colors of soldier beetles vary from yellow to red with often found on flowers such as goldenrod, where they
brown or black wings or trim. A common and lie in wait for prey, feed on pollen and mate.
easily-spotted species is the Pennsylvania leatherwing,
which is yellow with one large black spot on each Since soldier beetles are beneficial, it is inadvisable to
wing. kill them. They may be a nuisance in the fall, if large
numbers of larvae enter a house in search of a place to
Soldier beetles resemble lightning bugs but do not have overwinter. Weather-stripping and caulking will
light-producing organs. Another group of beetles that pest-proof a home. A vacuum cleaner will safely
may be confused with soldier beetles are the blister remove soldier beetles that are found inside.
beetles, which are pests, but blister beetles have a
square-shaped head and a very visible"neck."
Adult females lay their eggs in clusters in the soil. The
larvae are velvety, covered with dense bristles, and
have antenna-like projections on their head. Most
larvae are carnivorous, feeding on insects in the soil.
Larvae overwinter in damp soil and debris or loose
COOPERATIVE EXTENSION SERVICE
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UNIVERSITY OF KENTUCKY, KENTUCKY STATE UNIVERSITY, U. S. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE, AND KENTUCKY COUNTIES COOPERATING